Skip to main content

Progressive Metal Review: Unified Past-Spots

Release Date: 11thJune 2013
Label:  Melodic Revolution Records


The band, Unified Past has been around for a fair bit of time, since 1999 in fact, although they existed as an earlier band in 1990, called Labyrinth, including two members who are still part of the band today, although only one has had continuous service. Spots is the sixth release from the band following From The Splintered Present Surfaces (1999), Power of Existence (2008), Breaking Up The Atmosphere (2009), Tense (2010) and Observations (2011). Spots was originally released back in 2013 and has been revamped ahead of the expected 7th album later this year.

The band members for the recording of the album, Spots, were Steve Speelman (bass, keyboards, guitars and vocals), Victor Tassone (drums, percussion, effects and backing vocals) and Dave Mickelson (bass). I hadn’t heard of either Steve or Dave before but had come across Victor as a guest on the self-titled debut album by Corvus Stone. Unified Past certainly show that they have been influenced by Rush and Dream Theater, and seem to have their feet planted firmly in the melodic rock area, albeit with a bit of leaning toward prog metal.

Spots is an 11 track album with a total playing time of around 59 minutes. The majority of the 11 tracks have single word names with the only exceptions being the last 2 tracks. The penultimate track is only a single letter, “G” and the final track is called just that, “The Final.” These 2 tracks are also the shortest, with “G” clocking in at 1:21 minutes and, the longest, with “The Final” running on for in excess of 8 minutes (8:27).  Although Steve and Victor are listed as vocalist and backing vocalist respectively, 6 of the 11 tracks on offer are instrumentals.

The opening track on Spots, “Blank” (5:17) has a short atmospheric build up, only around 18 seconds before the power trio of guitar, drums and bass announce their entry in a fairly forceful way. Seconds later, the vocals appear, and a minute after that the guitar throws in a great little riff which surfaces again later. This opening track is one which moves swiftly along, almost with the feeling that the music is being “kept in check” and not allowed to go careening off in any direction. The song benefits from this restraint being imposed.

“Deep” (5:42) is a slower paced track which still allows some excellent guitar work over the rock solid rhythm engine that is the bass and drums, which underpins the track. “Hot” (4:44) takes a step into the jazz zone with some excellent driving passages and superb guitar themes.

“Seeing” (3:49), “Tough” (8:18) and Age (6:26) move away from the jazz area back to the “classic power trio” playing of the earlier tracks. This then leads on to a series of tracks that are instrumentals, “Sun” (3:48), Big (6:35), “Wet” (5:07) and “G” (1:21).

“Sun” is a short punchy track that drives along, “Big” is a slower tempo and goes through a number of time changes, “Wet” continues the slightly slower style and “G” is a quirky, very short piece, which in reality makes me question the inclusion of the track, as it is just so removed from where the other tracks are at.

The final track, “The Final” (8:26) is another slow burner of a starter, with greater emphasis than before on the atmospherics, created by the majestic keyboards and the superb touch of Steve on the guitar. “The Final” is an excellent relaxed, laid-back track which finishes the album on a very positive note.

In general terms, this is a satisfying chunk of prog metal/power metal, but seems to lack the spark that ignites an album for the listener. This is a pleasant album comprising melodic prog by excellent musicians, but never “hits the heights.” I also tend to find that any album that has many instrumental tracks, or is fully instrumental, needs that special “feel.” Until the run of the 4 instrumental tracks toward the end of the album, I was enjoying the album, but they certainly tested my “staying power.”

Spots is an album that just doesn’t reach out, grab your ears and shout “this is great music!” It is an album that I think I will dip into from time to time and pick a few tracks to listen to. As always, my personal opinion may not be the same as anyone else, so give Spots a few listens and see what you make of it.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks:  Blank, Hot, The Final

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
June 30, 2015
Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Rock Review: Aunt Mary-New Dawn

Release Date: 12th February 2016 Label: Wind-Up Website
Aunt Mary, as a name, somehow suggests an “older” band and it came as no real surprise to find that they are a Norwegian prog band from the 70’s. The band were considered by many to be one of the best prog bands in Norway with their brand of music a mixture of heavy hard rock tunes plus clear indications of a more symphonic nature, although that only really showed itself on their 3rd, and last, studio album, Janus, in 1973. Last that is, until now, with the release of New Dawn. This would appear to be an apt title for a release which follows 24 years after an album of blues covers, released in 1992. 

At their height, Aunt Mary were “up there” with the likes of Deep Purple, Ten Years After, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and many more. After the release of Janus in 1973, the band split up but did a few sporadic appearances, as well as releasing the blues covers album mentioned earlier.

3 years ago, the Norwegian guitar legend and producer, …

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…

Jazz Fusion-Rock-Pop-Funk Review: Project Grand Slam-Trippin’

Release Date: June 29, 2018 Label: Cakewalk Records Website
This will be my sixth voyage into the world of Project Grand Slam (PGS). So, what is this experience going to be like this time? I would expect the same great combination of jazz, rock, funk, and pop that I always enjoyed.

Just so you all know PGS is: Robert Miller (bass), Mario Castro (saxophones), Bayden Goyo (keyboards), Joel E. Mateo (drums), Guillermo Barron Rios (percussion), Tristan Clark (guitar) and the beautiful Ms. Ziarra Washington (vocals).

So, now we are Trippin’ into 2018 with PGS. And the first track titled “1972” was like turning on the radio and hearing the Average White Band or Tower of Power. Yes sir, on the AM dial, it came blaring through back in those days. 

The title track is a real gas too. This number has some great sax from Castro and a killer rhythm section courtesy of Miller and Mateo. It shines the spotlight on them clear and bright. Let me tell you, those two are like the dynamic duo, kind of like a p…